Graffiti comes with baggage. It's often been associated with vandalism and gang activity. And for years it's stirred up sentiments – pro and con – about its legitimacy as an art form. However, in the midst of this debate, a shift has taken place. Graffiti is now trending toward the glamorous – showing up in chic places, on hip home furnishings and on high-end fashion accessories. Artists are being commissioned for their work, which is now know as urban, street and spray paint art. Creative professionals say they are inspired by this art form's energy, style and colors.
The graffiti-infused environment that designer Michael Tavano created for the New York Design Center at DIFFA's Dining By Design event last year is still generating buzz. Inspired by a dinnerware pattern, his colorful design showcased an elegant table surrounded by an edgy graffiti mural rendered by a local artist. "I wanted to take a baroque dining room and bring it to the streets," Tavano says. Color and contrast were central elements in his eye-catching design. Tavano told me that he admires the creativity that goes into street art and would like more people to "open their minds and see it as artwork." In fact, many ideas for the mural came from the artist himself. "We live with color all around us," Tavano says. "You can use a lot of color and still be comfortable." Personally, I couldn't agree more.
On a softer note, graffiti is just one element that completes the dining experience at the upscaleRare 120 steakhouse in Las Vegas. You'll find a subtle hint of graffiti scrawled across the restaurant's dining chairs. "People don't even realize the motif is graffiti," says owner Lonnie Moore, explaining that the overall vision was to create a "super modern, very female-friendly environment." I love how the custom black and white chairs serve as a neutralizer to the saturated burgundy and red tones in the space. However subtle, I surmise that graffiti was a key ingredient in designing the "cool, sleek and fun" atmosphere that Moore says his clientele wants.